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By Dr. Peter Hollands, PhD in Stem Cell Biology

When choosing an umbilical cord blood storage company it is important to ask some critical questions. Many new banks are being established at the moment and many do not have the necessary background or expertise to provide a first class service. The questions which any client should ask a potential cord blood bank are:

How long has the company been established?

Can you visit the bank on request to see their facility? Is the annual fee guaranteed or subject to increase? If the specimen volume is too low is there still a charge?

How many samples are frozen and how many have been released for transplant?

Where does the bank store the samples?

Does the fee cover all aspects of processing and storage e.g. testing for infectious disease, cell counts and so on? Is there a fee associated with the release of a sample for transplantation?

Does the bank have a Medical Director and a Scientific Director in personal daily contact with the bank? How many scientific staff are there and what is their experience?

Does the bank offer free information consultations? Is the bank accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks or an equivalent?

Does the bank work to the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System?

Does the bank have a low income policy to allow clients on low income to store privately if they wish? Does the bank offer public banking as well as private banking?

Does the bank use state of the art techniques and how are these updated?

If any of these questions cannot be answered clearly and precisely then the bank in question will probably be unable to offer the level of service deserved by all cord blood storage clients.

In the USA, umbilical cord blood stem cell storage is now common practice. Public awareness in Canada must now be raised. These are extremely valuable cells which should not be wasted at birth but should be collected, stored and potentially used to treat a range of diseases.

Dr Peter Hollands is Scientific Director of Cells for Life Ltd, 377, Church Street, Markham, Ontario, Canada L6B 1A1

www.cellsforlife.com or www.cellsforlife.on.ca

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